Saturday, December 31, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/31

The Gift of Optimism:
This year some of the book titled I read were No Impact Man, The Story of Stuff, In Defense of Food, and The Hundred Dollar Holiday.
Despite this, I still have plenty of stuff, including cans of cream of mushroom soup, and spent well over $100 at Christmas.
This week the internet seems rife with stories about 2011 recaps and how folks are elated to see this year wrap up in a don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out kind of way. While the year may have stank economy-wise, here on Cape Cod I still have my favorite local radio station and a membership to the farm that's a mere 10 minutes from my house. Farmers markets sprang up everywhere in 2011 with two winter markets scheduled to start in Falmouth after the first of the year. My sons' elementary school went paperless with his take-home notices and our fall fundraiser included the sale of reusable shopping bags instead of shiny wrapping paper that can't be recycled or burned. Shopping local for the holidays was promoted everywhere and despite my dream in which they folded to make way for a hip and knee replacement store, the sales woman at our main street toy store said sales were strong this year.
So maybe it wasn't all doom and gloom. Not if you turned over every stone and really looked.

Friday, December 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/30

The Gift of Leaving Well Enough Alone:
Why is it that when four boys are playing quietly, upstairs, together in one room, you have to ruin it by going up to check on them?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/29

C and I won the afternoon mind bender on WMVY yesterday. I provided the answer and C was quick draw on the telephone.
After giving the answer (Luxemburg), he threw the phone on the floor and started screaming "We Won! We Won!" as if we'd just won a million bucks in the state lottery instead of a CD from a radio station.
Speaking of gifts, even though we weren't, tonight C's got for friends sleeping over for a belated birthday party.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/28

Now that it's all said and done, I wonder if it wouldn't be better to give the kids occasional gifts during the year, gifts for no reason, or gifts for small celebrations that we make up ourselves, rather than save everything up for the big December payola.
My past philosophy has been that of not really buying my kids much during the year outside of birthdays - making it okay to go overboard on December 25. It's like a Christmas binge after an 11-month fast. Which of course is unhealthy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/27

You know your kids got too much stuff for Christmas when they tell their grandparents on the phone that they got so many presents they can't remember them - and they only finished opening gifts 10 minutes ago.

Monday, December 26, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/26

The seasonal question - leave the unwrapped presents under the tree for a few days or put everything away?

What Child is This?

A litany of embarrassing moments from the Christmas Eve service at Grace Memorial Chapel.
When the reader started in on Luke chapter 2 verse 8 (and there were in that same country shephards), H leaned over and whispered: "Linus!"
When the organist started in on "Hark the Herald Angles Sing," he said, "Charlie Brown!"
When Jesus was getting wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the manger he asked me, "Mommy, is Jesus a boy or a girl?"
After placing his cow in the manger, S made a b-line not for our pew but for the back door of the church. Ken got him just as he was opening the door.
After we finished singing "Silent Night," N spoke up loudly and asked, "we sing Happy Birthday now? I like that song."

song: What Child is This? • artist: William Chatterton Dix

Sunday, December 25, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/25

You gotta love Christmas. It's the only day I can get my kids to do anything:
"Sure. You can open your gifts right after you get dressed, clear away the breakfast dishes and re-shingle the roof."
I could have kept them going all day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/24

You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I'm telling you why:

'cause I said so.

Number Two

So far the kitten's been good about going number two in the litter box but Leo like to pee just about anywhere.
I bought a book on training your kitten but I wrapped it up to give to H on Christmas so it looks like we've all got to wait one more day before addressing the problem.

song: Number Two • artist: They Might Be Giants

Friday, December 23, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/23

Gift of Nature:
Finished stringing our outdoor Christmas lights (finally!) and found this bird nest in the holly bush.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Coldest Night of the Year

My husband and my eldest son are both wearing shorts to commemorate the shortest day of the year.
Touché

song: The Coldest Night of the Year • artist: Bruce Cockburn

NaBloPoMo 12/22

In art class this week the kids made gifts to give away to other people.
C told me that he gave his present to his friend Will to give to Will's dad.
Great.
 Santa's getting all the credit - and now Will's dad is getting the homemade present that's rightfully mine.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/21

All the e-mail advertising promise that it's not too late - you could still get your gifts in time for Christmas, just order by midnight tonight, noon tomorrow, 8 PM on Thursday, expedited shipping, next day air… When is it too late? Pay extra shipping equal to twice the value of the gift and they'll show up in person and hand it to your loved one on Sunday morning.
The subject line in the e-mail ad for viagra and cialis reads "Christmas is Coming!"
Clever right? Christmas is coming and maybe you could be too.
Except that further down in my spam folder there's an ad for luxury replica watches and their subject line is also "Christmas is Coming!"
The viagra and cialis ship in one-to-four days.
It's not too late!

NaBloPoMo 12/21

I thought I had posted on Monday. In my head I had written about the gift of foresight and having stopped at the gas station before the empty light came on the dash - a first.
Instead I guess I needed to write about the gift of follow through.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/20

Have I mentioned that I made my own gift wrapping paper this year with a newspaper end roll and stamps made from styrofoam meat trays?
I confess, it was a little obsessive. Not exactly Martha Stewart, but not half bad.
Too bad Santa will still be delivering gifts in the toxic, don't-recycle-it-or-burn-it-in-the-fireplace-variety.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happiness is a Warm Gun

Some things that my children have told me look like guns:
• candy canes
• pieces of bread with bites taken out
• sticks
• rolled up pieces of paper

song: Happiness is a Warm Gun • artist: The Beatles

Sunday, December 18, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/18

The gift of perspective.
Knowing that in one week it will all be over.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/17

The gift of a guilt-free conscience.
It's easier to give away dog crates, cook books, faux x-mas trees, cloth diapers, and wine glasses. After postings on Facebook and Freecycle, Paul came through on Craig's List and picked up our old tv since there was no way after reading "No Impact Man," and "The Story of Stuff" that I could consign our working tv set to the dump.

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Kid in Town

Meet Leo.

song: New Kid in Town • artist: the Eagles

NaBloPoMo 12/16

Wouldn't it be better if the kids had the week prior to Christmas off and not the week after?
There are all these things we could be doing: making cookies and suet and paper chains and ornaments, and decorating frames for school pictures for the grandparents.
Instead the boys are in school all the way until next Friday where I'm sure they are so distracted they can't concentrate a wit.
Instead of a week of preparations, they have the week after Christmas off instead. C told me the reason it was this way was to give them a week to play with their toys thereby emphasizing yet again the gift-getting aspect of this holiday instead of the parts that could really be both enjoyable and memorable.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/15

Am I feeling some resentment towards Santa?
You bet I am.
I do all the work and some eccentric old guy in a weird outfit with a penchant for having little kids sit on his lap gets all the credit.
On any other day we would caution our children to run screaming away from anyone fitting this description and yet on this one day (and the 364 days leading up to this one day) we encourage our kids to behave so he will bring them gifts.
The other day H dreamily declared that he loved Santa.
"It's me!" I wanted to say. "It's me you love!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/14

With the prompt, gift, it seems natural to contemplate one's childhood and reminisce about a favorite Christmas present. Only trouble is I can't think of one.
There was this Tuesday Taylor doll, sort of a large version of Barbie. What I liked most was that my mom made her clothes. Sometimes she made the out of remnents from clothes she'd made me so Tuesday and I matched. I also remember being pretty excited about the Barbie camper one Christmas. But other than that, what I remember about Christmas is decorating the tree, having shrimp for dinner on Christmas Day, the long wait before opening gifts while my Dad went to mass, years when my Lexington cousins came to visit, putting those wax-like bricks in the fire that made the flames turn color, those bumpy pillar candles we had, one of Mary, Joseph and Jesus and the other of the wise men, and lastly those birds that looked like test-tubes with water in the bottom that would dunk their beaks into your drink - boy did I think those were cool.
Kinda puts it all into perspective as I contemplate whether or not to by more stuff for my kids. What they need isn't more gifts. It's more kitsch.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/13

In college I once went to a Joan Jet concert that I didn't want to attend. My boyfriend didn't want to be there either. So why were we there? Gifted tickets? Sociology report on the science of crowds? Free snacks? No no and no although there might have been snacks, it's hard to remember - everything about college had snacks involved.
We were there because neither of us wanted to do what the other wanted. I wanted to go to a lecture at Simmons and he wanted to go to an NU huskies hockey game. Instead of one of us sucking it up for the other we chose to do something neither of us wanted to do in the first place and despite the fact that we had a pretty good time at the concert, for a long time after I would use this incident as an example of everything that was wrong with the relationship and how neither of us would make a sacrifice for the other.
But time has this way of putting things into a new light. Often I find myself suggesting to my children when they are fighting because C wants H to play a board game and H wants C to shoot hockey pucks up and down the hallway, that they do neither and agree on something else entirely. I use the word consensus and explain that while they may not end up with their number one choice, they should be able to come up with something that is fun for them both; it's either that or take your toys to your own corner and play alone. What I find is that having someone to play with is usually more important than what they play.
Because it's almost Christmas, this incident from college has reminded me of O. Henry's Gift of the Magi, a story which I've always had a hard time deciding if I liked. It's depressing picturing the two characters sitting on their shabby couch, her with her fancy combs and short hair and him with his watchless platinum watch chain. Even O. Henry flat out calls his characters "foolish children" but then waxes sentimental saying that "of all who give gifts these two were the wisest."
I don't know. Maybe if they had just pooled their resources they could have gone to the Joan Jett concert too.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blues About You Baby

The Tao of My Twins: Lesson #10

He who does not commit the time up front to paying attention to what their kids are doing must accept that they will have to clean up the mess after their children are done.

song: Blues About You Baby • artist: Delbert McClinton

NaBloPoMo 12/12

Damn. I'm sure Donna what's-her-name is a very nice person and all, but no one deserved to win that gift stocking more than me.

The Road

I still think about you, wonder where you are.
Can you see me from some place up there among the stars?

And if it's only all about the journey in the end
On that road I'm glad I came to know you my old friend.

song: The Road • artist: Emmylou Harris

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/11

Waiting for the big man to arrive for the passing out of gifts at the Elks Christmas Party:
C: Santa always comes in from the bar.
Me: Of course he does.

You Keep Me Hanging On

The rules.
#1 Glass and ceramic at the top, wood and felt at the bottom.
#2. An ornament must hang from the Christmas tree.
No exceptions.
If you hang an ornament and it dangles so low that it ends up sitting or lying on the branch below it does not constitute hanging. You must remove that ornament and find a different place to hang it.
#3. An ornament that has a definite front and back must be hung so that it faces front regardless of how many times you have to take it off, unwind its string, hang it again and wait until it stops spinning to see if you got it right. Santa's face must be facing forward. Period.

song: You Keep Me Hanging On • artist: The Supremes

Saturday, December 10, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/10

Today, S, my son who cries at preschool drop off literally pushed me back and fended off his brother in order to go - by himself - to collect his gift/em> from Santa.

Friday, December 09, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/9

Good News caller number nine!
We're now registered to be in the drawing for the giant gift stocking from WMVY!
C and I are already counting our gift certificates.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/8

Dear fellow Blogher readers,
It's that time of year. Time for parents of school-aged children to receive a letter or e-mail from the classroom parent suggesting that they all pitch in to buy a gift certificate for the teacher.
How do people feel about monetary collections put towards gift certificates for teachers?
I opted out of the group gift because a) my son won't get that good gift-giving feeling if I write the teacher a check and b) I have four kids, all of which have various teachers, classroom assistants, music teachers, Sunday school teachers, coaches and bus drivers. These people are all lovely and invaluable to the quality of my children's lives but I cannot afford to go out and purchase gifts or go in on gifts for all of them.
It seems like the group gift is now the norm. Maybe it is easier for busy parents. Don't get me wrong about it. I'm busy too. You don't have to think up a super-creative gift for your child to give their teacher - or strong arm them to think of something. I have the kids compose a card in which they tell their teacher what it is they like most about class this year. I have them use details. The details might take some strong-arming but teachers love details. We generally make something simple and include it with a card.
Is the "group gift" now the norm? Does your child give the teacher a gift for Christmas?

Lazy Day

It's 1:20 PM. S & N just changed out of their pj's in order to have lunch - pancakes.
In the last few days I've been dialing the WMVY hotline in an attempt to register for the drawing for their holiday stocking stuffer so often that today I went to call Ken at work and couldn't remember his number.

song: Lazy Day • artist: Spanky and Our Gang

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/7

Sunday is the Elks Christmas Party.
The one where I provide the wrapped gifts to be handed out to my kids and Santa gets all the credit. - not unlike December 25th.
H is planning to ask Santa for a DS.
I hope Santa's prepared to let him down easy.
C would know better than to ask for anything electronic, he's very in tune to Mommy's attitude about electronic toys. He reminds me of myself. I always knew to only ask my mother for clothes that were hanging on the sale rack; H on the other hand is still shooting for the stars. Do I like it better to think that my kid knows who I am or do I like it better to think that my kid is oblivious and ever hopeful?

The Trees

S & N try to protect Christmas tree ...
 From crazy saw-wielding older brother ...
 to no avail ...
song: The Trees • artist: Rush

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Sing a Song

The other day C and H and I were watching School House Rock and getting down to Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here. I told C that instead of commercials when I was a kid they aired educational programming between television shows (not exactly true but no harm no foul). I then told him that in addition to singing about adverbs, the constitution, and interjections, we used to sing our times tables in school.It's no wonder I'm always breaking out into song. I can't help it. I'm a child of the 70s.

song: Sing a Song • artist: The Carpenters

NaBloPoMo 12/6

To the best of my knowledge no one has complained about this year's holiday gift guide. It might be a first.
You would think that the holiday gift guide would be the least controversial supplement and yet there's always something. Once I got complaints that one town on the Upper Cape wasn't featured enough. Once someone commented that there wasn't enough mention of Hanukkah. Once a woman left a long rambling message about how we featured Hanukkah too much, and Christmas not enough. There have been complaints about shops not featured and credit not given, events not listed and facts not checked.
Once someone complained that the supplement features were all about encouraging people to buy stuff and not about the true spirit of Christmas. Undoubtably they weren't paying attention on the cover - where it says, in large print, Holiday GIFT GUIDE, because that's what the supplement is folks - a guide to gifts. No hidden agendas here people.

Monday, December 05, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/5

I imagine the cast of "Says You!" being given the words "present" and "gift" in a round of What's the Difference. Without consulting Webster (we don't need no stinkin' dictionaries), I would answer that a present is given at a prescribed time, for a birthday, for Christmas, etc., while a gift can be given at any time, making it more spontaneous. Also, a gift can be less tangible than a present. We often refer to the gift of time or of friendship; while you don't usually hear someone speak of the present friendship. Gifts have a spark of the divine about them. A gift might even connote sacrifice which could be why O. Henry wrote "Gift of the Magi," instead of "Present of the Magi."
There are gifts from heaven and gifts from God. Personal attributes or special talents are considered gifts, as in, "he was musically gifted" or "she was a gifted student."
A round of Says You's "Odd Man Out" featuring the word gift might look something like this: Tag, Baby, Horse, Shop and Cheese. Cheese would naturally be the odd man out since you've got your "gift tag," "baby gift," "gift horse," and "gift shop," but no "gift cheese."
And speaking of, it's a real gift when I get to listen to "Says You!" in its entirety on a Saturday night. That 8PM time slot is really not conducive to parents who are trying to put children to bed. In a few years I'll just give up and let them listen with me.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Automatic for the People

The automatic sliding door on my mini van is broken. Estimated cost for the replacement part is $400 and there's substantial labor involved in the procedure so it looks like I'll be adding the door to the things-that-will-never-get-fixed-in-my-lifetime list. It's a bit discouraging because the automatic sliding door was the only cool thing about driving a mini van.

album: Automatic for the People • artist: R.E.M.

Darkness on the Edge of Town

OMG, I hate this time of year. What's the point in hanging out the laundry, I'll just have to bring it in two hours from now when it gets dark.

song: Darkness on the Edge of Town • artist: Bruce Springsteen

NaBloPoMo 12/3

Mommy buys the Advent calendars.
Mommy strings up the Christmas lights.
Mommy makes sure the boys each have a new ornament to hang on the tree.
Mommy buys gifts.
Mommy wraps gifts
Mommy buys gifts for the Elks Christmas Party so that Santa can hand them out to her four kids at the party.
Mommy bakes cookies.
Mommy strings popcorn and cranberries
Mommy makes sure her kids make cards and presents for their teachers.
Mommy orders the photo card from Shutterfly.
Daddy hides the elf on the shelf.

Friday, December 02, 2011

NoBloPoMo 12/2

I admit it, I'm a person who judges other people on how they react to my kids. What that means is that I'm waiting for you to say my kids are cute, if you don't, it's likely that Ken and I will talk about you later as in, "Can you believe so-and-so didn't say the kids were cute?"
I blame society for this because society tells us our kids are cute - all the time. Seriously. Want to get a response from 20+ people on Facebook? Don't write something clever - post a photo of your kids - people you didn't even remember you were friends with will respond to it. It's pavlovian. It's taken to the next level when you have twins - hyperdrive cute.
When S & N were babies and I'd push them down Main Street in their double stroller we were like a parade: people in cars would slow down and point, people on foot would at the very least smile when we passed, I think that even dogs were humbled (yep, they're cuter than me, woof, woof). I was pushing the boys on a side road once and a man came out off his porch and asked me if I'd push my twins over so his 90-year old mother could see them. Last week S & N stood at the end of the driveway to wave to the garbage man and not only did the garbage man wave back, he stopped to truck, got out, talked to them, showed them the cab, and beeped the horn. The twins were awestruck.
When they were babies I remember telling my husband the twins were ambassadors of good will and that I'd never, in my life, gotten so much attention. It was intoxicating. It was what being popular must be like. You get used to it. We got used to it. Which is why - when people don't comment on how freaking' adorable my kids are, I notice. Yesterday the plumber was here, providing a morning of entertainment for S & N who would have happily handed over tools had it been an option. Silas even presented him with a gift: a yellow piece of paper with several cut marks (he's working on his scissor skills), and barely got an acknowledgment. I get it. The guys not a little-kid kind of guy, I wasn't a little-kid kind of gal before I had some myself, but it doesn't stop me from saying, when Ken called to ask about the job, "can you believe he didn't say the kids were cute?"
Even though I was not a baby gusher before kids, now I try to comment on other people kids because as adorable as that baby or toddler is when I tell their mother that they are lovely, there will come a time in the not-too-distant future when they will be red-faced and wailing. Perhaps when they are in that moment, it will help that exasperated parent to remember that their child is usually so sweet that even strangers on the street notice.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

NaBloPoMo 12/1

"The first gift of Christmas!" announces Santa as he hands off that harness bell to our nameless "Polar Express" narrator while all the parents wax nostalgic and all the children think, "what an idiot, he totally wasted his wish!"